Closure of Clerkenwell fire station moves closer despite Islington’s City Hall protest
PUBLISHED: 14:03 25 February 2013 | UPDATED: 14:03 25 February 2013
The closure of Clerkenwell fire station moved a step closer today as London Mayor Boris Johnson’s controversial budget was passed.
Thousands of Islington residents signed a petition against scrapping the historic station – which the borough’s political top brass delivered en masse to this morning’s meeting of the London Assembly.
The Mayor wants to reduce the London Fire Brigade (LFB) budget by £45million over the next two years, which fire chiefs say will lead to the closure 12 stations, including Clerkenwell and Kingsland in Kingsland Road, Haggerston.
An amendment to keep LFB funding constant was passed by 16 members to nine – but a majority of two thirds is needed to change the mayor’s budget, so the cuts will stand.
A delegation of Islington’s senior Labour politicians made the trip to City Hall, but Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South, was told she wasn’t allowed to hand the petition due to there being a different procedure for budget meetings.
She said: “It’s going to be hard to explain to people in Islington why I wasn’t allowed to hand their signatures in. It’s unimaginative bureaucracy.”
She added: “Boris Johnson didn’t even acknowledge how strongly the people of Islington feel – he just made cheap political points. It’s rather insulting.”
Pam Zinkin, 81, a retired paediatrician and part of the Islington Pensioners Forum also joined the protest.
She said: “I’ve seen enough children with burns injuries over the years to know that while ambulances need to get to the scene of a fire in minutes, fire engines need to be there in seconds. Then they can prevent people suffering burns in the first place, rather than treating them afterwards.
“You’ve got to do what you believe in. Boris Johnson has led such a sheltered life – he doesn’t know anything about burnt children.”
Cllr Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “In all the years I have been involved with politics in Islington this is the first time I’ve had to come down to City Hall.
“It’s scandalous that these stations are being sold off and it will endanger the most vulnerable people in society. That’s what having a Conservative mayor means.”